IAEA Head: Iran Nuclear Report Could Be Completed in 2015

IAEA Head: Iran Nuclear Report Could Be Completed in 2015

The United Nations nuclear watchdog chief said a report about the investigation into whether Iran has sought to develop nuclear weapons could be submitted by the end of the year, with Tehran's help.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano said Saturday, "With cooperation from Iran, I think we can issue a report by the end of the year on the assessment of the clarification of the issues related to the possible military dimensions (PMD)."

Amano spoke to reporters Saturday before heading into talks with global powers in Vienna.

His comments could mark a breakthrough in one of the thorniest issues still blocking an agreement with Iranian leaders after almost two years of intense negotiations.

WATCH: VOA's Mary Alice Salinas discusses what's ahead Saturday for Iran nuclear negotiations in Vienna, Austria.

All sides say a deal is within reach. But there are several difficult sticking points, one of which is the IAEA's stalled investigation into the PMD. Others include access to Iranian sites and the timetable for lifting sanctions.

The negotiators missed a June 30 deadline for a final agreement, but have given themselves until July 7, and foreign ministers not already in Vienna are due to return on Sunday for a final push.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials in Vienna said international nuclear and sanctions experts are grinding through details of various issues in an effort to negotiate a final agreement on Iran's controversial nuclear program.

A senior U.S. State Department official said "expert groups" are taking advantage of time most of the top ministers involved in talks are out of town to do the detailed hard work involved in the process, noting that it is "clear that there are still big issues that are not resolved."

Also Saturday, a senior U.S. administration official responded to questions regarding progress on the other sticking point in the nuclear talks: which U.S. and international sanctions would be lifted and how quickly.

"Even if and when issues get resolved at an experts level, there will remain some open issues that can only be decided by ministers," the official said.

Key ministers are expected to return to Vienna starting Sunday, and a senior administration official said "some significant political decisions" will need to be made at the ministerial level, before a final agreement can be reached.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi have remained in Vienna.

Senior officials from Iran and the six powers have continued meeting to try to finalize an agreement.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi also met Saturday, a U.S. official said.

Sticking points

Western and Iranian officials said there were signs of a compromise emerging on one of the major sticking points: access to Iranian sites to monitor compliance with a future agreement.

Amano was in Tehran Thursday for meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other top Iranian officials to discuss the stalled IAEA investigation into Tehran's past nuclear work.

WATCH: International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano discusses report on Iran's past nuclear work, in Vienna, Austria

Answering the IAEA's so-far unresolved questions about the possible military dimensions (PMD) of past Iranian nuclear research will be a condition for easing some sanctions on Iran if Tehran and six powers succeed in agreeing on an historic nuclear accord in Vienna, diplomats close to the talks say.

Amano said that during his trip progress had been made in moving his investigation forward but more work would be needed, echoing a statement the IAEA issued on Friday.

Kerry met twice Friday with Zarif to discuss key disputes that prevented nuclear negotiators from meeting a June 30 deadline for an agreement.

Kerry said negotiators have a lot of work to do and there are some tough issues.

Made some progress'

Zarif echoed his statements, saying "we are all trying very hard in order to be able to move forward and we have made some progress."

A senior U.S. official said the White House remains convinced that "if the right choices don't get made and a good deal is not available" then the United States will be "more than comfortable stepping away." He added that if talks get "exceedingly close" to a comprehensive deal it is "conceivable" negotiations could go beyond the self-imposed July 7 deadline.

Separately, in a statement on YouTube, Zarif said Iran and world powers have never been closer to reaching a deal, adding that he sees the "emergence of reason over illusion."
IAEA Head: Iran Nuclear Report Could Be Completed in 2015 IAEA Head: Iran Nuclear Report Could Be Completed in 2015 Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 8:32 PM Rating: 5

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